In a press release on 14 December 2012 Ethiopian state-backed full-service operator Ethio Telecom announced that it is currently finalising negotiations with equipment vendors for a major network expansion and upgrade contract, to support the introduction of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in capital Addis Ababa, 3.5G HSPA+ in ‘all big cities’, and ‘universal internet access’ in a project to be completed ‘by 2015’. In October CommsUpdate reported that Chinese vendors ZTE and Huawei were expected to sign contracts with the Ethiopian government for Ethio Telecom’s upcoming mobile expansion and modernisation drive. Demonstrating the demand for mobile data services, the operator reported 2.44 million GPRS-based mobile internet users amongst its total 17.26 million cellular customers at the end of its fiscal year in June 2012, while it plans to upgrade and expand nationwide its Addis Ababa 3G W-CDMA services.
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